Cheshire Lines Committee

Cheshire Lines Committee

The Cheshire Lines Committee (CLC) was the second largest joint railway in Great Britain, with 143 route miles.[1] Despite its name, approximately 55% of its system was in Lancashire.[2] In its publicity material it was often styled as the Cheshire Lines Railway. It served Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Warrington, Widnes, Northwich, Winsford, Knutsford, Birkenhead, Chester and Southport.



The Cheshire Lines group was formed by a joint committee of the Great Northern Railway and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR) in 1862 to regulate traffic on four proposed lines in Cheshire (listed below). This was made official by the Great Northern (Cheshire Lines) Act of 1863. The Midland Railway (MR) became an equal partner under the Cheshire Lines Transfer Act of 1865. Under the Cheshire Lines Act of 1867, it became a wholly independent organisation, although its management consisted of three directors of the three companies. Its purpose was to gain control of lines in Lancashire and Cheshire, an area which was dominated by the LNWR. In its early years, the driving force behind the expansion of the railway was Sir Edward Watkin.

It was granted the powers to build a line to Liverpool, opened 1873, from a temporary station in Manchester, 34 miles (54.7 km) long. The section nearest Liverpool from near Cressington was along the Garston and Liverpool Railway, which had been absorbed on 5 July 1865. From 1874 the CLC was headquartered at Liverpool Central station.

By the late 1870s, Manchester had become the city from which the CLC's services radiated and it became necessary to bring the various Manchester operations into a single terminus – the Midland and the MS&LR were using London Road (now Piccadilly) which the latter shared with the LNWR. Accordingly Manchester Central was built in 1880. The MR moved its trains to the new station on its completion.

Grouping and nationalisation

In 1923 the Midland Railway, along with the LNWR, was grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, while the MS&LR (by then the Great Central Railway) became part of the London and North Eastern Railway. The line continued to be joint, with a 1/3 share LMS and a 2/3 share by the LNER. On nationalisation in 1948 both parent companies became part of British Railways, and shortly afterwards operation of the CLC lines came under the control of the London Midland Region.

The CLC today

The CLC routes between Liverpool and Manchester and between Manchester and Chester via Northwich, survive. Several CLC stations remain in their original form, such as Widnes, Warrington Central and Urmston. Liverpool Central station has been demolished: local services on the former CLC line in Liverpool, operated by Merseyrail, run through an underground station at the same site, and mainline services run to and from Liverpool Lime Street. Manchester Central Station is now the Manchester Central Conference Centre.


Created from:



  • Skelton Junction to Cressington Junction line, as part of Liverpool- Manchester line.
  • North Liverpool Extension Line
  • Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway


  1. ^ Casserley, p.68
  2. ^ by calculation from M.R. system maps, sheets 16-19A


  • Casserley, H.C. (April 1968). "Cheshire Lines Committee". Britain's Joint Lines. Shepperton: Ian Allan. pp. 68–80. ISBN 0 7110 0024 7. 
  • Holt, G.O., A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, Volume X: The North West, David & Charles, 1978. ISBN 0-946537-34-8
  • Radford, B., Midland Though The Peak Unicorn Books, 1988.
  • Dyckhoff, Nigel. Portrait of the Cheshire Lines Committee, Ian Allan, Shepperton, 1999. ISBN 0-7110-2521-5
  • Midland Railway System Maps (The Distance Diagrams). Volume 2 Leeds to Leicester and branches; Derby to Manchester and branches; Cheshire Lines (1909–1923 ed.). Teignmouth: Peter Kay. ISBN 1 899890 17 3. 

External links

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